1) First, tell us about yourself – where you live, your family, and those sorts of details.
I live near Houston, Texas, with my husband and four furry companions (three cats and one dog). Each of us has our own quirks, so it’s rare we have a dull day! I love living in Houston with one notable exception—the weather. If the climate were more like, say, the Pacific Northwest, it would be perfect. So I enjoy the urban suburbanness of my little town and end up staying inside far more frequently than I’d like. In a way that’s a good thing because it’s one more thing to keep me at my computer and writing, right?
I graduated from college with a degree in technical communication and, thus armed, began my career as a technical writer documenting software and corporate processes. Over the years, I’ve changed my focus onto marketing communications instead of technical communications. All that means is by day I write for my company, by night I write for me.
2) How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing in some form or another my entire adult life. I decided a couple of years ago that I genuinely wanted to become an author. My first book, A Crazy Homecoming, took about eight months from start to finish, though the idea had been flitting around in my head for a few years.
3) Do you have a favorite place to write?
I’m an opportunistic writer, so I write whenever and wherever the mood strikes. Most of A Crazy Homecoming was actually written while I was on the road, visiting my friends and family in New Mexico. I’d guess that at least half of the book was written while my husband drove and I typed away on my iPad in the passenger seat.
This reminds of one of my favorite memories of that trip. See, in our house we have a steadfast rule: he who drives picks the playlist. That usually works out in my favor since I’m most often the one who drives. But hubby knew I was in the zone and wanted to keep writing so he drove most of the trip. I was very thankful until the reality of his playlist choices began to sink in. Few people know this, but the first sex scene I ever wrote was while driving through eastern New Mexico listening to The Jerky Boys. I’d like to think I tuned them out rather well!
4) Why did you decide to write A Crazy Homecoming?
The idea was growing in my mind for quite some time, inspired by my efforts to document my own family history. As I gathered vital records and photos, I realized I only had a partial picture of my family history. There was so much more I wanted to know about the ancestors I found! That whole experience really got me thinking about roots, both in family and in a place. The family ranch, Crazy, was thus born.
As for the timing of the book, I think it was losing my dad to aggressive cancer in 2012 that spurred me on to finally do what I’d been dreaming about. He was a proud Texan—in many ways, he was Texas to me. I try to include as much genuine Texan experience in my stories as possible, and in a way that’s my love letter to the state and an homage to my dad.
5) Who is your favorite character in your book and why?
Definitely Nana. She’s the grandmother I think everyone would want. She’s strong willed, independent, compassionate, loyal, and funny. She may be old but she hasn’t failed to evolve with the times. She’s definitely the kind of woman I want to be when I grow up.
6) How about your least favorite character? What makes them less appealing to you?
By design that would be Sissy, the heroine’s cousin. She’s a catty, self-absorbed woman who projects her own deep-seated unhappiness and insecurity on everyone around her. She represents all of the uncertainty and angst that Daphne is trying to overcome. And as you might expect, dealing with that force is more successful some days than others.
7) Do you proofread/edit your own books or do you get someone to do that for you?
My mom, sister, and a writer friend are the lucky recipients of the hot mess that comes straight off my keyboard. I call them my alpha readers—they give me a thumbs up or down on how the story and characters are progressing. Then I clean up my drafts as much as possible to send my beta readers, who vary according to their availability. They help me catch typos and mistakes, but I really rely on them to help catch inconsistencies and continuity problems. But even with all that, I want a professional editor to go through my books. As the author I get blinders and don’t catch everything that needs to be fixed. And as a reader, I’m sensitive enough to those errors that I don’t want my readers confronted with them.
8) What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I try to read as much as possible. When I’m not in the mood for that I’m doing some sort of crafts—card making, scrapbooking, crocheting, knitting, or jewelry making, to name the crafts I spend the most time on. Beyond that, I am forever adding to my genealogy research.
9) Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?
I love to read and my tastes are pretty eclectic. As you might guess, I tend toward the romance genre! But I spent much of my teenage and early adult years ensconced in science fiction and fantasy. I also discovered a few years ago that the YA market had some wonderful, fresh voices. My favorite authors change with my mood, but a few of my perennial favorite romance authors are Nora Roberts, Karen Marie Moning, and Gena Showalter. I’m also discovering great indie authors through my own self-publishing experience—Minx Malone, Amanda Brice, Marie Hall, and Zoe York, just to name a few. If I need an escape from the romance world, one of my favorite go-to’s is Anne McCaffrey. I’m a sucker for her Dragonriders of Pern series.
10) What question do you wish that someone would ask about your book, but nobody has? Write it out here, then answer it.
This is such a hard one! Here goes:
Why did you decide to self-publish?
I honestly don’t know of a single writer who hasn’t dreamed of being discovered by a huge publisher and becoming their leading star. I know I did. Then I read about, and even witnessed with people I know, the ups and downs of trying to catch a publishing house’s attention. The publishing industry has been turned on its head over the last decade and becoming an agented writer, much less published by a major publisher, is more competitive than ever.
My decision came down to a very personal introspection on what I wanted to achieve through my writing. Sure, I’d love to have the power of a major publisher behind my novels, but deep down, I wanted to tell a story and know people enjoyed it. Self-publishing allowed me to do that without the angst and pain of the long cycle of rejections that many traditionally published authors have had to endure. I won’t rule out a book deal, but I am thrilled that I’ve been able to fulfill my personal desire to tell a story without losing my zeal for it because I was rejected one too many times.
Date Published: 8/1/2013
Getting fired over a workplace meltdown was bad enough, but getting dumped at the exact same time by her boyfriend-slash-boss was the ultimate humiliation. With no real friends in L.A. and perennially absent parents, Daphne Simms has no one to turn to. To heal her heart, she runs to the only true home she’s ever known—her grandmother’s rural Texas ranch, called Crazy. She knows ranch folks will be a far cry from those she's known in L.A., but she certainly doesn’t expect to be greeted by a cranky cowboy shoving a shotgun in her face.
Mick Williams has lived and worked on Crazy for twenty years. Though he’s utterly devoted to Daphne’s grandmother, he’ll be damned if he’s gonna let a city slicker like Daphne sashay in and disrupt his nice, quiet life. When the future of Crazy is threatened, Mick and Daphne must join forces to keep the ranch afloat, but the heat of their attraction makes working together more complicated than either of them imagines.
When their physical and emotional connection deepens, Mick tries to turn away from the woman he’s convinced he doesn’t deserve, so Daphne has to pull out all the stops to convince him that the heart of Crazy is big enough for the both of them.
As the sun dropped lower in the sky, Daphne decided to walk down to the pasture and check on the new calf. Walking down the road, she marveled at the different smells and sounds of the ranch. The green of the grass and yellow of the wildflowers took on a different, deeper hue this time of day. There wasn’t the deep sense of silence and slumber now as there was at dawn, but rather the pent up energy of a day that was winding down.
When she got to the fence of the pasture, she didn’t see the mama and Honda, so she slipped through the fence and wandered towards where Honda was born. It took her only a few minutes to find them.
She stopped a few yards away, a bit unnerved by the sheer size of the mama. Honda was busily nursing and oblivious to Daphne’s approach. Mama, on the other hand, never took her big brown eyes off of the intruder. Although she acted wary, her eyes seemed friendly to Daphne, so she circled around to get a better view of Honda.
I swear he's grown since this morning. No longer wet and slick, she could see now that he wasn’t black but a deep brown with a white spot on his forehead. His legs looked like wobbly little sticks that couldn't possibly support the head that seemed way too big for his spindly body. Damn, he's adorable!
She was working up the guts to get closer when she heard, "Well, howdy."
She nearly jumped out of her skin. She was so intent on the cows that she hadn’t heard Mick approach. Clapping her hand to her chest, she took a few deep breaths to recover.
"Whoa!" he said, reaching out to steady her. "I wasn't trying to startle you."
Her heart still hadn't settled, so she just waved her hand in acceptance of his almost apology.
"Come to check on our boy?"
Smiling she said, "Yes. I just couldn't help it. Has he really already grown? I swear he's grown."
"He's got a lot of growing to do these first few days and he's certainly got a good start."
"How long will he and his mama be out here?" she wondered.
"Oh, once he's a couple of weeks old, we'll probably move them back to the herd."
"How long will he stay with his mother?"
Surprised at her curiosity he answered. "We try to wait six or eight months before we wean a calf and decide whether to keep or sell it. The nice thing about him being born in the fall is that we'll have a couple of extra months. If we decide to sell him, he'll have more time grazing and growing, and will fetch more money at auction."
Daphne gasped. "You mean he's going to be butchered?"
"That depends on what someone buys him for. I doubt it in this case. He's good enough stock that he'd make a good bull for breeding. On a ranch, selling stock for food is part of how we make a living."
"Sure, I know," Daphne murmured. “I'm not used to having such direct involvement in the circle of life.”
Mick noticed the shine of tears in her eyes and was immediately riled. "Why is that so upsetting to you people?"
"'You people'?" she demanded. "Do you mean women?"
"No," he said, as if he was trying to reason with a child. "I know plenty of women, your grandmother for example, who don't get squeamish about the fact that our food comes from animals. I mean people like you. Spoiled city slickers," he sneered.
That, in turn, got Daphne riled. "That's a nasty thing to say."
"What? It's true." He jabbed his index finger at her. "Just a second ago, you were getting teary eyed over the idea of Honda here becoming the next ribeye you eat."
"It's not a genetic defect or a character shortcoming, Mick. I've never been around animals, whether they're cows or goldfish. Choosing which animal becomes my next meal just hasn't been part of my world. I bet you'd be quaking in your self-righteous boots if you were faced with attending the opera or running a board meeting. I could just as easily make a similar wide-sweeping generalization about you being some overly macho hick. So shove it up your ass, shit flicker." And with that well aimed zinger she turned to walk away.
Mick chuckled. "I think you mean 'shit kicker.'"
She turned around ready to scream and swear some more but his expression took the steam right out of her. She thought he looked sheepish but wasn’t sure. Carrying on a conversation with this man was confounding and just plain irritating. She seemed to always end up putting her foot in her mouth or wanting to smash it into his.
"Listen," she snapped getting revved up again. "I know that for whatever reason you don't like me or approve of me or whatever. But just because I'm a ‘city slicker’ who's never lived on a ranch, don't you dare assume I'm not smart enough or strong enough to understand and appreciate the life." He looked about as shocked by this outburst as she felt.
"My life fell apart, and when I needed to hide and heal, when I needed love and family, Nana was the one I came to. Nana was the one person I could come to. And she accepted me with open arms. She is my family and the most important person in the world to me, so I'm here for the long haul. It seems to me like that's something you're going to have to learn to deal with."